LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Volunteers are working to restore and protect miles of hiking trails burned by the Cameron Peak Fire in northern Colorado.
The fire burned more than 208,000 acres, making it the largest wildfire in state history. At least 122 miles of hiking trail are included in that land, and about 40 miles suffered high burn severity, making the land more susceptible to erosion.
The Poudre Wilderness Volunteers are among the organizations working to protect the trails most at risk. A team came together Sunday at Upper Dad Gulch Trail at the edge of Comanche Peak Wilderness.
“This is an area where most, if not all, of the vegetation and root masses has been consumed by fire. It’s an area where we’re going to experience some extreme erosion impacts,” said Matt Cowan, Wilderness and Trails Manager for the Canyon Lakes Ranger District.
Cowan said if mitigation measures aren’t put in place, the trails could wash away in heavy rain.
“In a lot of areas, we could totally lose the trail infrastructure that has been built up over decades,” said Cowan.
Josh Balzer and his son Aiden are among the volunteers.
“I was blown away by how much of the land was burned and how much of it was gone,” said Balzer.
Cowan said each trail is different when it comes to the work that needs to be done. On this particular trail, crews are clearing debris and dead trees, installing drainage structures and re-establishing tread.
“That was the trick of the day, all about trying to figure out where the trail used to be so that we can reclaim it,” said Jennifer Parenti, a volunteer.
Cowan said between several different groups, they have volunteers working on the trails nearly every day of the week.
The Poudre Wilderness Volunteers are still looking for help. More information is available on their website.